Legislation was filed Wednesday in the Texas House of Representatives to further the SpaceX project that may potentially be located near Brownsville's Boca Chica beach.
House Bill 2623 by state Rep. Rene Oliveira allows Cameron County to temporarily close an area of the beach for launches and space flight activities with approval of the General Land Office. While SpaceX has not made a final decision to relocate to the area, Oliveira filed the bill to make certain the necessary legislative measures are in place to move the project forward.
"This is an important tool to bring the company to Cameron County, but it also protects citizens' access to the beach in times of peak summer use" said Oliveira, chairman of the House Committee on Business and Industry who will meet with SpaceX founder Elon Musk Friday in Austin. "We have a unique economic development opportunity based on our unique location on the Gulf Coast. Our intentions to help make the project a reality are crystal clear."
The bill specifies that a county must have the approval of the state's General Land Office before a launch may be made. The bill also prohibits the closure of a beach during the Saturday or Sunday preceding Memorial Day; Memorial Day; July 4; a Saturday after Memorial Day but before Labor Day; and, a Sunday after Memorial Day but before Labor Day.
The GLO, however, could approve a launch during those dates under special circumstances. In order to launch on one of those dates, the launch must be justified as one of special nature based on technical requirements, adverse business consequences of not launching on a particular date, or regulatory requirements. Any special launch date would require county and GLO approval, and would require 14 day notice of intent.
"The project has received overwhelming community support and support from state leaders. We want to make it happen, but we also want to make sure that the people of Texas have access to their beaches," said Oliveira.
The proposed SpaceX project must still undergo federal scrutiny through the Federal Aviation Administration as well environmental impact studies. If the FAA does not approve SpaceX's launch site, the beaches cannot be closed. Beaches may only be closed for a launch at an FAA approved site. If the FAA denies the site, the bill will have no effect. The FAA will address launch site environmental issues in its Environmental Impact Study.